March 29, 2011 | 5:11 pm
I have a renewed appreciation for the phone lately. Not my DROID which seems to want to be everything but a phone, but I digress…
Last week I placed an order for two gift baskets through Wolferman’s. A few days later, I received a message from them. A simple voicemail from a real live sales rep thanking me for the business and letting me know both my gifts had shipped. Last week, I got a call from a real live person from IAEE, not a pre-recorded teleblast, reminding me to register for the Mid-Year Meeting. I appreciated the personal touch in this age of automation. And since I rarely get calls or voicemails anymore, they had a strong impact. One of my favorite clients will email me with a prompt, “Do you have time to chat about a few things this morning?” I’ll call and we can knock out our top to-do’s sometimes in a matter of minutes. It’s efficient and I get to catch up with the person, not just the workload. For one of our other clients, we are currently experimenting with a new marketing tactic: personal follow-up calls to those who opened a call-to-register email but have yet to register for the event. We know they are interested since they took the time to open the email. We believe that a phone prompt might be the enticement they need to commit to the event. It also provides an opportunity to deliver a sincere thanks or even a special offer.
Just as print is making a comeback, maybe phone calls from real live people are, too. I’m not the only one who hopes so.
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November 5, 2010 | 12:38 pm
This weekend at my daughter’s soccer game, I sat down next to a commercial builder and a lawyer who were in the middle of a somber conversation about business. For the most part, things were looking up—new clients, new projects, an uptick in billable activities. However, we all agreed that basic civility has taken a big hit. I’ve been wondering ever since—why is it so hard to be nice anymore?
I believe stress and fear have a lot to do with it. A segment on this week’s Today Show supports this idea and also suggests that our growing disengagement from face-to-face communication is part of the problem. Everyone has learned to do more with less in this recession. The problem is that less staff, less budget and less resources also mean less profit, less time and less fun. The people who are lucky enough to have their jobs have to work twice as hard and the bottom line—and holding on to business—has become the driving factor in how we behave. We are distracted and harried. For most of us, though, the majority of our waking hours are spent at work and those work relationships can either make or break our days.
I am hopeful that a new trend will start. A sincere compliment, some genuine gratitude and a smile really do go a long way. We should all try to practice random acts of kindness toward one another. Surprise your colleague with their favorite Starbucks drink; offer some unsolicited positive feedback and stop there; pick up the phone and have a conversation instead of exchanging cryptic two-word emails; say thank you at the end of a long day. It is really not that hard to do.
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May 13, 2009 | 6:54 pm
As a working parent, managing childcare is a top priority–and stressor. Something so critical should require constant interface, phone conversations and documentation. Right? Not anymore. I’ve been through five sitters in the past few years (that’s another story) but with each one, my main method of communication has been texting to their mobile phone or PDA. Not by choice but by necessity. Often, I will call and get no answer. If I follow up with a text, I’ll get a prompt reply. I finally caught on that they don’t even have their ring tone activated. I insist that they turn that on but I have adapted to texting as the primary mode of communication with my sitters on things like a new pick-up time, a general check-in or to let her know I am running late.
I used to worry that this information was much too important for the casual text message, but the bottom line is: texting gets critical messages across quickly and effectively. If I need to have a longer conversation with my sitter, I’ll start with a text asking her to call me. I’ve grown to believe in the power of sound byte communication. It’s not really replacing anything. It’s more of a new dimension in communication. And it doesn’t mean the information gets diminished in importance–or the recipient is less engaged.
The professional world is not ready to “discuss” important matters via text. But it looks like it might be headed there. For now, I think it is appropriate to text a client to let her know I am stuck in traffic, alert her to a last-minute change in a meeting location, or ask her if she has a few minutes to chat if I know she’s en route somewhere.
Texting, Tweeting, and Facebook status updates, can be the start of a longer conversation that continues and flourishes off line. I still believe nothing beats face-to-face interaction. More and more, you may need a quick hit to the handheld device to get things moving in that direction.
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April 20, 2009 | 10:55 am
The votes are in and the answer is… just kidding. I don’t think we’ll ever figure that one out. And it doesn’t matter because e-mail is here to stay. Let’s face it, we all love it. It ensures that we will always be busy: writing e-mails, answering e-mails, and then answering the answers that came in while you were answering another e-mail. See how much fun we’re having?
It’s e-mail etiquette that we really need to learn, remember, teach our staff, teach our children, then remind ourselves again over and over or else this can happen. Here are the “rules” that spring to my mind:
- Always, always, always check the “To:” box before pressing “Send”
- Never respond to an e-mail with another e-mail if someone is upset or angry
- Use e-mail when multiple people require information that needs to be in writing
- Do not use e-mail when the information is just as easily communicated verbally
- Do not put information in an e-mail that you wouldn’t print out and post on the refrigerator for all to see (i.e. hurtful or confidential info).
I’m sure you have more e-mail rules to live by. If you have some good ones to remember, please share!
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